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MI Missions: accelerating the clean energy transition




By Marieke Beckmann (Senior Advisor, International Energy Innovation Strategy at the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Missions Workstream Lead in the MI Secretariat)


I joined Mission Innovation (MI) in January 2020, a “super year” in the climate community[1]. The Annual MI Gathering in Riyadh in early February was one of the first major milestones I was fortunate to be part of on our “Beyond 2020” journey. MI was approaching the end of its initial five-year remit and, as members, we had several major decisions to make:

  • Principally whether to commit to a second phase of MI, and also
  • What Mission Innovation 2.0 would look like in terms of its key elements and what the guiding principles would be.

Listening to Members’ discussions and seeing the closely-knit community the first MI phase had formed, it perhaps wasn’t entirely surprising that Members resoundingly agreed that MI should continue to run for a second phase. There was strong interest to refresh MI 2.0 with goals and commitments to actively capture political, business and society’s imagination. Members agreed that concrete outcomes and actions needed to be established that would enable pathways to markets and maximise the impact of investments.

We discussed multiple options we could take in MI 2.0 – including increased investment focussed on demonstrations of clean technologies, or building capability, enabling collaborations and accelerating learnings to strengthen global innovation systems. MI members agreed that Missions should form a core focus of the second phase, with Ministerial-backed public-private coalitions committing to ambitious 10-year innovation goals.

These now established MI Missions aim to accelerate the development of clean energy solutions in critical areas. They act as an organising principle in target industries to deliver global tipping points[2] to accelerate decarbonisation pathways this decade. Crucially making clean energy “THE choice” to make for governments and companies globally.

Although Missions are set up on a voluntary basis, all Missions we recently launched at the Innovating to Net Zero Summit, went through a peer-review process managed by my team in the MI Secretariat involving members and partner organisations to ensure that they:

  1. solve a major clean energy solution gap directly relevant to several countries and their citizens, which is dependent on research and innovation.
  2. have the ambition and commitments to accelerate tipping points towards attractive clean energy pathways.

At the Innovating to Net Zero Summit on 2 June 2021 the initial three Missions on power systems, shipping, and hydrogen[3], were launched. But we’re not stopping here!

We now have four months to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), hosted by the UK, where we will be making further announcements on our existing Missions, as well as potentially launching new Missions. Ultimately MI Missions will not only establish a clear goal and tipping point, but they will also set out global roadmaps and action plans on how they will meet the Mission goals. To enable us to measurably track progress, Missions will also set out key milestones and Key Performance Indicators.

For now, however, Missions are nominating Mission Directors, who will lead our public-private coalition of partners and kick off their collaborations. I invite you to follow the Missions on their journeys to COP26 and beyond!

[1] Under the Paris process, countries undertake a five-year global stocktake with the aim of “ratcheting up” ambition through new pledges at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference.

[2] E.g. cost, scale, confidence or performance of solution(s) that enable them to more rapidly lead towards clean energy pathways

[3] Green Powered Future – led by China, Italy and the UK – aims to demonstrate that, by 2030, power systems in different geographies and climates will be able to effectively integrate up to 100% variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar, in their generation mix and maintain a cost-efficient, secure and resilient system.

Clean Hydrogen – led by Australia, Chile, the UK, the US and European Union – aims to make clean hydrogen cost competitive to the end user by reducing end-to-end costs to USD $2 per kilogram by 2030. The Mission will increase research and development in hydrogen technologies and deliver at least 100 hydrogen valleys across production, storage and end use of hydrogen worldwide.

Zero-Emissions Shipping – led by Denmark, the US and Norway, together with the Global Maritime Forum and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping – aims for ships capable of running on zero-emission fuels (such as green hydrogen, ammonia and methanol) to make up at least 5% of the global deep-sea fleet by 2030.